The future of mobile surveillance: open architecture

By Steven Winnefeld

Since surveillance was first introduced to mobile environments, the hardware has been primarily closed systems.  This was likely due not only to market expectations, but the limits of the technology.  As competing vendors raced to engineer solutions for the unique challenges that moving buses propose, the available hardware became diverse and increasingly complicated and proprietary.  The use of VCR cassette tapes or hard disc drives that had to be manually removed and laboriously catalogued necessitated a system that was not easily integrated with other security and safety concerns.

Today the expectations of recorded visual evidence are much more defined and scrutinized as our technological resources have expanded.  The public anticipates a clear visual record of critical events almost immediately after they are reported.  Current technology has delivered convenient features such as the ability to download video to a centralized storage server wirelessly via a WiFi network, but now cellular networks make logging into an application from any mobile device to view any live camera feed on any moving bus a reality.  Applications such as Safety Vision’s Observer Management System PRO provide an incredible amount of options to maximize fleet surveillance administration, but systems like these are still limited to moving vehicles, and still only initially available to transit agency personnel.

New technology, like the RoadRecorder® 8000 network video recording server pictured here, are being designed for seamless integration.
New technology, like the RoadRecorder® 8000 network video recording server pictured here, are being designed for seamless integration.

The next step is open architecture solutions.  Open architecture removes proprietary constraints and simplifies maintenance, making it easy to swap out or upgrade components.  But most importantly, it allows integration with a variety of other systems that can then be unified to form a seamless visual narrative.  Now, instead of footage recorded on buses being downloaded to a specific server and reviewed using specific viewing software, the video can be integrated with all of the camera feeds from any networked digital video recorder in the city.  Applications like Milestone System’s XProtect® suite are open platform, centralized video management systems that can show an unlimited number of cameras from an unlimited amount of “recording servers” in one application.

Safety Vision has designed the next generation RoadRecorder® 8000 network video recording server to integrate seamlessly into the XProtect system.  Cities or agencies equipped with Milestone can now add up to 36 cameras on each bus to their stationary camera views.  Personnel can watch as riders enter a terminal, board a bus or train, and then depart at their stop.  Maintenance facility and administrative office cameras can be added too, for complete coverage of both riders and employees.  Cities can integrate video from multiple municipal agencies.  Law enforcement is now able to add mobile views to stationary city surveillance, recording the complete narrative of events and enhancing critical evidence.  Public safety is greatly improved, presenting first responders with an effective tool to manage emergencies, reducing response times.

Because systems like Milestone are open platform, the possibilities for available equipment and camera perspectives are limitless.  Third party applications can be integrated, such as face and license plate recognition programs.  Every agency is mandated with unique responsibilities that are often not covered by off-the-shelf solutions. Open architecture supports flexible hardware and software that adapts to your unique ecosystem.

Mobile video no longer needs to be isolated.  Telecommunication network technology has brought a new age of connectivity in all aspects of our lives.  New open architecture products are the key to ensuring mobile video becomes a part of this new reality.


Steven Winnefeld is the documentation specialist for Safety Vision, LLC, a pioneer in mobile video surveillance systems. Safety Vision prides itself on its institutional knowledge. For a complete set of references please visit: